Love is our mission: Denver pilgrims going to see the pope

Eight groups from the Archdiocese of Denver are going to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis. Please pray for our pilgrims!

Archdiocese of Denver official pilgrimage

Number of pilgrims: 66

The Archdiocese of Denver began to plan for this trip last September, when they first heard about the meeting of families. Planning escalated when they learned the Pope would be attending. The trip’s organizers said that are excited about bringing together a variety of Denver Catholics, from many different parishes.

“It’s a compilation of many parishes, so it’s an eclectic group of people from all over the archdiocese,” said trip organizer Mary McGeehan, of the office of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries.

Redemptoris Mater Seminary

Number of pilgrims: about 16 

“Every time the Pope comes, we want to be there to show our support,” said prefect of studies Father Emilio Francome.

Father Francome said that their visit will be brief, lasting only three and a half days. The seminarians will stay with a Redemptoris Mater alumni at his parish near downtown Philadelphia. They will attend a vigil celebration Saturday, the public Mass with the pope on Sunday, and attend a neocatachumen way meeting on Monday before heading back to Denver.

Despite their packed schedule, Father Francome said the pilgrimage may give the seminarians a much-needed recharging.

“When you are in the seminary…the daily routine is such that you can lose perspective,” he said. “Things like this can be reviving.”

He said he hopes they will inspired to see so many other Catholics wanting to live their faith, to receive a message from the Holy Father that they will then bring back to Denver and to have a deeper appreciation for the importance of Christian families.

“We exist as priests because we are there to support the families, but we need also to receive from them. It’s a reciprocal relationship,” he said.


St. John Vianney Theological Seminary

Number of pilgrims: about 22

Although the trip serves as a break from the seminarian’s studies, they will still have certain duties to perform. For example, organizers from the World Meeting of families asked Vice Rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary Father Jason Wallace is some of the seminarians would help with the meeting. In addition, the seminarians will stay with families in the Philadelphia area.

“We have Catholics and non-Catholics opening themselves to house seminarians,” Father Wallace said. “The seminarians are going to see the Pope in union with the bishops from each of their diocese. It’s a good way for the guys to give testimony to who they are.”


Christ in the City 

Number of pilgrims: 10

The missionaries at Christ in the City view a pilgrimage to see Pope Francis, who frequently emphasizes the importance of serving the poor, as completely in line with their mission. While they said they are excited to see the poor, missionary Trey Gross said they are especially excited to live out the mission during their pilgrimage.

“We’ll be serving the poor in Philly. We’re going to grab some local college students and do streetwalks, just like we do here,” he said. “We’re not only going to receive a lot of formation in seeing the pope and everything, but we’re also going to give of ourselves. We’re there to give as well as receive to the people of the archdiocese of Philadelphia.


St. Thomas More (Centennial)

Number of pilgrims: 73

St. Thomas More went to great lengths to make their trip as flexible and affordable as possibly, so that families could easily attend. In addition, they have chosen to place a special emphasis on religious freedom.

For example, while some members of the trip go to visit local shrines, others will go to Independence Hall.

“Our religious freedoms today are constantly challenged and threatened. We wanted our pilgrims to be able to see what our forefathers did. ” said trip director Jo Holt.

Holt said it may be many of the children’s first time experiencing a pilgrimage. She is personally excited to wake up her 10, 11, and 14-year-old children to find a spot for the Papal Mass.

“They don’t understand what it’s like to make sacrifices, and to have our schedule go outside what it normally is, Holt said. “I’m excited for the time our family going to spend and experience the richness of our faith.”


Immaculate Heart of Mary (Northglenn)

Number of pilgrims: from 6-20

Father Joe Doman is a Philly native, and said he is excited to bring his parishioners on this pilgrimage. The group started meeting four months ago, during which they would do an examination of conscience, and read from “Love is Our Mission”, an official preparatory text for the World Meeting of families.

Father Doman said he hopes he and the parishioners understand the deeper meaning of their pilgrimage.

“Every physical pilgrimage we take prepares us for the spiritual one we’re on,” he said. “The love I’m made for isn’t something I’m just in; it’s a mission.”


Queen of Peace (Aurora)

Number of pilgrims: around 150

Pastor Father Felix Medina has had his hands full, attempting to transport 150 parishioners with wildly different cultural and linguistic backgrounds to attend the World Meeting of Families. However, he said that the challenge is also a blessing.

“We always have those challenges here already. We hope that the spirit of the pilgrims and being open to the Holy Spirit, and knowing that the Holy Spirit is only one, will lead us to openness to each other like at Pentecost. We pray for the grace of conversion of openness to God and to each other,” Father Medina said.

Queen of Peace will broadcast some of the events for the people still in Aurora, so that they can experience some of the Pope’s visit. Father Medina said he hopes the experience will help his parish grow in knowledge of marriage and the importance of the Pope.

“Peter is a source of unity in the Church. He’s the same pope for everyone,” Father Medina said. “We are different, but we have to be unified. There’s nothing worse to evangelization than division.”


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (Fort Collins)

Number of pilgrims: 143

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Collins is going on a week-long pilgrimage, beginning in Boston, where thy will visit their patron saint. They will then make their way down to Philly.

“I’m excited because it’s a blessing for the church, to bring our parish with us to ask the blessing of our patron as we move forward into the future,” pastor Father Joseph Toledo.

Father Toledo said the group is especially blessed by the large number of children going. He has planned for activity books and scavenger hunts at each place they visit to help the children understand what is happening.

“I think that some of the blessing will be to help our families grow in the love of God, and that God is helping them every day, and just to see the children’s faces. I think for many of these children, it will be the first time and maybe the last time they see the Holy Father in the United States,” Father Toledo said.

In addition to the groups listed above, around 30 individuals chose to go to Philly privately. The Neocatachumenal Way also brought a group, but had not responded to an interview request by press time.


Follow Denver Catholic social media to learn more about all the Archdiocese of Denver groups heading to Philly. You can find at @DenverCatholic on twitter and

COMING UP: Colorado Catholic Conference 2021 Legislative Recap

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On June 8, the First Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly adjourned. Over 600 bills were introduced this session. Policy primarily focused on transportation, agriculture, healthcare, fiscal policy, and the state budget. However, the legislature also considered and passed many bills that could impact the Catholic Church in Colorado.  

Some bills that were passed will uphold Catholic social teaching and protect the poor and vulnerable of our society while others pose potentially harmful consequences to the Catholic Church, its affiliated organizations, and Colorado citizens who wish to practice their well-founded convictions. There were also many bills that were considered by the legislature that did not pass, including two bills that would have upheld the sanctity of life and two that would have expanded education opportunity for K-12 students.  

The Colorado Catholic Conference (CCC), as the united voice of the four Colorado bishops, advocated for Catholic values at the Capitol and ensured that the Church’s voice was heard in the shaping of policy.  

Below is a recap of the CCC’s 19 priority bills from the 2021 legislative session. For a full list of the legislation the Conference worked on, please visit:  

For regular updates and other information, please sign-up for the CCC legislative network here.  

Six bills the CCC supported that were either passed or enacted

Note: Passed means the bill was approved by both chambers of the legislature and is pending the governor’s signature as of June 9, 2021. Enacted means the bill was signed by the governor and became law.  

HB 21-1011 Multilingual Ballot Access for Voters – Passed  
If enacted, counties where either 2,000 adults or 2.5% of the adult population primarily speak a language other than English will be required to provide a ballot in that language. 

HB 21-1075 Replace The Term Illegal Alien – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1075, the term “illegal alien” was replaced with the term “worker without authorization” as it relates to public contracts for services.  

SB 21-027 Emergency Supplies for Colorado Babies and Families – Passed  
If enacted, the state government will allocate much-needed funding for nonprofit organizations to provide diapers and other childcare necessities to families in need, including Catholic Charities.  

SB 21-077 Remove Lawful Presence Verification Credentialing – Enacted    
With the enactment of SB 77, verification of lawful presence will no longer be required for any applicant for a license, certificate, or registration, particularly in the job fields of education and childcare.  

SB 21-146 Improve Prison Release Outcomes – Passed  
If enacted, SB 146 will establish practices that ease the transition back into society for formerly incarcerated persons.  

SB 21-158 Increase Medical Providers for Senior Citizens – Passed  
If enacted, SB 158 will allocate more funding for senior citizen care, which is currently understaffed and underfunded.  

Eight bills the CCC opposed that were passed 

HB 21-1072 Equal Access Services For Out-of-home Placements – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1072, Colorado law now prohibits organizations that receive state funding for placing children with adoptive or foster parents from discriminating on, among other things, the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or marital status. This new law will likely to be impacted by the imminent Fulton v. City of Philadelphia U.S. Supreme Court decision. 

HB 21-1108 Gender Identity Expression Anti-Discrimination – Enacted 
With the enactment of HB 1108, “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” are now recognized as protected classes in Colorado nondiscrimination code. This may have serious religious liberty implications for individuals and organizations that wish to practice their well-founded convictions on marriage and human sexuality. 

SB21-006 Human Remains Natural Reduction Soil – Enacted 
With the enactment of SB 006, human remains can now be converted to soil using a container that accelerates the process of biological decomposition, also known as “natural reduction.” 

SB 21-009 Reproductive Health Care Program – Passed 
If enacted, SB 009 will create a taxpayer funded state program to increase access to contraceptives.  

SB 21-016 Protecting Preventive Health Care Coverage – Passed 
If enacted, the definition of “family planning services” and “family planning-related services” will not be clearly defined in law and could potentially include abortion. Furthermore, SB 16 removes the requirement that a provider obtain parental consent before providing family planning services to a minor.  

SB 21-025 Family Planning Services for Eligible Individuals– Passed 
If enacted, SB 025 low-income women to be given state-funded contraception, “preventing, delaying, or planning pregnancy” services, which includes cessation services and sterilization services.  

SB 21-142 Health Care Access in Cases of Rape or Incest– Enacted  
The enactment of SB 142 removes the requirement that, if public funds are being used, a physician must perform an abortion at a hospital, and instead allows for abortions to be performed by any “licensed provider.”   

SB21-193 Protection of Pregnant People in Perinatal Period– Passed 
If enacted, SB 193 will eliminate an important protection in Colorado law for a preborn and viable baby when a woman is on life support.  

Five bills the CCC supported that failed  

HB21-1017 Protect Human Life at Conception – Failed 
HB 1017 would have prohibited terminating the life of an unborn child and made it a violation a class 1 felony.  

HB 21-1080 Nonpublic Education and COVID-19 Relief Act – Failed 
HB 1080 would have established a private school and home-based education income tax credit for families who either enroll their child in private school or educate their child at home, thereby expanding education opportunities for families during and after the pandemic.  

HB 21-1183 Induced Termination of Pregnancy State Registrar – Failed 
HB 1183 would have required health-care providers that perform abortions to report specified information concerning the women who obtain the procedure to the state registrar of vital statistics, thereby increasing transparency in the abortion industry.   

HB 21-1191 Prohibit Discrimination COVID-19 Vaccine Status– Failed  
HB 1191 would have prevented individuals from being coerced to take the COVID-19 vaccine by either the state or by employers.  

HB 21-1210 Modifications to Qualified State Tuition Programs – Failed 
HB 1210 would have allowed families to use some of their private 529 savings account funds for private K-12 school tuition for their children, including at Catholic schools.   

One bill the CCC opposed that failed 

SB 21-031 Limits on Governmental Responses to Protests– Failed 
SB 031 would have made it more difficult for law enforcement to protect innocent lives when protests turn violent.  

Two bills the CCC was in an “Amend” position that passed  

SB 21-073 Civil Action Statute of Limitations Sexual Assault – Enacted  
With the enactment of SB 073, the statute of limitations on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct will be removed as of January 1, 2022. Under this law, victims of sexual abuse can pursue a civil cause of action if the statute of limitations has not expired, the abuse happened in Colorado, and the abuse could be considered a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor if it was a criminal case. 

SB 21-088 Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act– Passed  
If enacted, SB 88 will allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue public and private institutions for abuse that occurred between 1960-2022. Victims would have three years to bring a historical claim, starting from January 1, 2022. Claims brought during this window would be capped at $387,000 for public institutions and at $500,000 for private institutions, with the ability of a judge to double the damages depending on how the private institution handled the situation. Despite unanswered constitutional concerns regarding SB 88, the Colorado Catholic dioceses will also continue to offer opportunities for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to receive support in a non-litigious setting.   

While the legislature has adjourned the 2021 legislative session, there is still the possibility that they will reconvene later this year. To stay up-to-date on Colorado legislative issues and their impact on the Catholic Church in Colorado, be sure to sign up for the CCC legislative network HERE.